Overcoming Disappointment by Dr. Arabia Mollette, MD

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There were [still are] moments in my life when I experienced disappointment.

For me, when these disappointments occur, the development of pain is a direct result. And it stings! When I am in pain, my mind is clouded, my chest hurts, and my body becomes a little feeble. Once I am by myself, I start to cry… a big ugly cry is released from my soul.

But even after I finish having crying spells and wiping away the snot from my nose, I feel disappointed and deep down in a rut for at least the next couple of days. Truth be told, when I am in that space, it is at that very moment that I am reminded that this is a divine opportunity for me to reflect on not necessarily the “why” but more so what are the lessons I’ve learned and how can I move forward.

It is not easy to reflect on the matter when you are in pain; at least not for me. I also do not pretend to be happy while facing pain, but I created a habit for myself of establishing a positive outlook.

I would like to share how our disappointments can be a vehicle for growth, gaining resilience and overcoming adversity in its own time.

What is Disappointment?

A disappointment is defined as sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.

Does this sound familiar? How many times have you expected to get hired for a job, only to be let down? Or you thought someone would help you in troubling times or that an opportunity would come through for you in a timely manner, but it didn’t work out in your favor? You remember how disappointed and frustrated you felt; possibly as though there is no light at the tunnel.

In the age of social media, you can visit your social media pages and witness how great everyone’s lives are. You may start believing that everyone else’s life is somehow better than yours. It made you feel terrible.

Overcoming Disappointment

Please understand that disappointments will come no matter what you do. Life is a journey. As long as we are alive, breathing and roaming this earth, we will be disappointed in others, our current situations and ourselves many times in our lives.

You can overcome disappointment. But it goes beyond just moving on from the situation and forgetting about it. It involves how we grow as individuals, finding contentment in midst of our disappointments and truly understanding those lessons intended to be learned. According to a 2017 article from www.psychologytoday.com, “if you are wired to expect the best, and then you are let down and don’t get it, disappointment and letdown can trigger a physiological response in the brain if you have a tendency toward depression.”

Firstly, one of the most important steps to overcoming disappointments is acknowledging that you are disappointed. When we acknowledge our emotional sentiment tied to a particular situation or person, then we begin the process of healing. Whatever you do, it is important to not deny your emotions. If you have to scream, shout, punch a pillow, walk outside to get air, cry or spend time alone to process the pain, then do it.

Last night, I became extremely disappointed with someone that I considered a mentor. I cannot go into details about what happened but I will say that I definitely cried for several minutes, shouted and walked outside to get air. I acknowledged that I wasn’t in the right mind space and that I was hurting.

And guess what? It is ok because this is when the Universe must have heard my cry because help was sent towards my way after I accepted where I was despite it was painful. Accepting where I was led me to figure how to work through it.

The second step is to embrace your current situation even when it is disheartening. So after I acknowledge my disappointment and accepted where I was, then I embraced the moment. This is where mindfulness comes into play.

I first learned about mindfulness when I lived in Havana, Cuba for many years of my life. Practicing mindfulness is wholeheartedly embedded in Cuban culture, especially in the Afro-Cuban religion of Yoruba. While living in Cuba, I was studying medicine at the Latin American School of Medicine. During medical school, our Cuban professors would speak about utilizing mindfulness within our practice in medicine as physicians. Whenever I felt frustrated with medical school, my own family in Havana would take me to the beach outside of our city, and helped me to focus on what was happening in my life.

I am a Pisces and I love being by the water. They knew that with me being in a space that is soothing and quiet that will it help me to focus my mind on what was happening to me.

See, mindfulness is the ability to focus on one’s awareness or being conscious of something. It can be achieved by acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Honestly this a great technique that I incorporated in my own practice as an Emergency Physician working at a very busy, noisy Level 1 Trauma Center; not only for myself but with my patients even when facing a critical moment in the emergency room.

Mindfulness helped me to press on faithfully despite the uncertainty and unpredictability of my current situation. My mind is trained to look upwards.

Third, it is so important to be mindful of the people you surround yourself with. Surround yourself with supportive people. Many years ago, I used to believe that I can handle all situations by myself. I also believed that in the ideology of “no new friends” because my old friends are all that I need.

The Power of Friendship

Well, the Universe taught me another lesson. Friendships are like bank accounts. We make deposits, withdrawals and sometimes go into the negative and spend what we don’t have in the account. There were a few people that were removed from my life when I was experiencing pain because they were not supportive. They added no value to my current being.

However, I learned that we are not meant to bear life’s burdens alone. Although a few people were removed from my life, I certainly knew that no matter what, the Universe would send someone that I love and who loved me in my time of need.

As I mentioned before, last night I was extremely disappointed in my former mentor. The mentorship is severed and I accepted it. But it hurt like hell. Once I calmed myself down and my mind was not clouded, I reached out to a very close friend of mine (Nicole) to get her perspective. I’ve only known her for a year. But our friendship and sisterhood grew phenomenally. I knew it was the right thing to do to contact Nicole.

She shared her own similar experiences as a testimony and encouragement. Her perspective definitely helped me view things in a better light and reminded me that I was not alone. Before we ended our telephone conversation, we meditated and prayed for wisdom and guidance for all of our situations. Wisdom is about the ability to make good decisions even in the most difficult circumstances.

Final Thoughts

Understanding that it will take time to move on is imperative. There are many things that are beyond our control and we have to do our best to be steadfast. Sometimes the same situation may reoccur. If you find yourself in the same situation, do yourself a favor and ask yourself “what are you going to do differently to bring resolution?”

There are other methods to overcome disappointment. Perhaps prayer and meditation will make a positive difference in your circumstances. Eating clean, nutritionally well-balanced foods can also help with our physical and mental states. Exercise can also boost your mood. Having a good night sleep of at least 8 hours will allow your brain to do its work while your body is resting. While we are sleeping, our brain becomes more active and gets rid of toxins, allowing us to make dreams and wake up in the morning feeling productive.

There are moments that I wish that I didn’t experience some disappointments because the pain is real. But one of the things I absolutely love about life including those same disappointments is that I learned the very lessons that were meant for me to embrace. I am so grateful for mindfulness and the lessons learned. It brought me this far and will continue to get me further during this journey.  

Remember be kind to yourself during these disappointments, don’t stay stuck in your rut and if you are in a rut, please seek professional counseling. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.


Support Your Girlfriends

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There’s always a retreat popping up somewhere in the world. Retreats has become increasingly more popular and are beginning to replace standard vacations. Why? Because people are looking for ways to take charge of their own health on different levels: spiritually, mentally, socially and physically. 

Recently, I attended a wellness retreat entitled “Support Your Girlfriends” this past weekend in the island of Jamaica. The retreat was wonderfully organized by my publicist, Nikkia McClain. 

I was hesitant to attend initially. I didn’t know what to expect especially since this was my first time going to this kind of trip and finding out that I was going to share a room with a person that I didn’t know beforehand. I must say that the retreat was absolutely amazing! I was surrounded by 19 other women that were like-minded, seeking support and wanted to improve their lives. It was a great space for establishing new relationships and creating long lasting friendships. I was encouraged to write a blog in hopes of inspiring others to attend more retreats. 

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Here are my top reasons why you and/or loved one should attend a retreat:

1. Self-care is important! It helps clear your head, reset priorities, heightens your productivity and gain a little extra motivation to sustain optimal health. 

2. Retreats may help improve your overall health.

3.Most wellness retreats are designed to help educate and inspire you to return home with all the tools needed to take care of yourself. 

4. Great space for establishing new relationships and creating long lasting friendships.

5.Experienced improvements in spirituality, gratitude, self-love and anxiety. 

6. An inclusive group environment such as a retreat can provide great support.

7. Can make you feel relax, be at ease and be yourself!

I’m so glad that I attended this recent retreat. I was invited not only to speak at this retreat, but connect with women that are so open to love unconditionally, truly support one another and so I can let my hair down/be free/be myself. I connected with high power women that truly believe in investing in each other plus our community at large AND said “sista’ what do YOU need to get YOUR dream poppin’ into a reality because this what I will do to make it happen!” 

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There were so many testimonies, hugs and kisses given, and prayers thrown to the Universe because all of us realized that WE are struggling with some real life personal issues as Black Women no matter how famous or not, the title and successful we are. The prayers had us shouting to GOD with tears rolling down our faces while asking our Creator to help us with all that we are going through...meanwhile not feeling ashamed to be vulnerable in front of each other. 

I’ve gained more sisters and another squad in the name of women-empowerment, self-love, self-care, mental health, women entrepreneurship and wellness. 

Do your life a favor and go to a retreat for the sake of saving yourself. You won’t regret it! 

Facing Bipolar Disorder

Meet Joel Tavarez. He is a very polite and shy 18 y/o Dominican adolescent from the Bronx, NY. Joel was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and sought professional treatment after a series of self-destructive behaviors (to himself and others) that eventually landed him to hospitalization. It was at that moment, he realized that “enough is enough” and began to see a brighter future for himself. Joel met with me a few days ago at one of my favorite parks (Bryant Park) in NYC on a sunny day to talk about how he balances his life while living with bipolar disorder.  July is recognized as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and it is so important to raise awareness about health disparities that continuously affect many people. It is imperative to understand that there is a need to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in order to improve both community and clinical interventions that can help prevent mental health illnesses among minorities at risk of mental conditions.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, bipolar disorder is more prevalent in the United States than in other countries. Bipolar disorder was formerly called manic depression. It is a mental health disorder that causes extreme mood swings known as mania or lows (depression). Some people that struggle with this disease, may feel sad, hopeless or lose interest in most of their daily activities. Then there are moments when the mood can shift to mania. You or a loved one may feel full of energy or become unusually irritable. These mood swings can occur multiple times a year and can affect sleep, productivity, judgement, critical thinking and judgement. It is unpredictable. There are several types of bipolar and related disorders. 

  • Bipolar I disorder: You or someone you know may have had at least one manic episode that may be followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes.
  • Bipolar II disorder: At least two years of many periods of hypomania symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms. It can be also seen one year during childhood and adolescence.
  • Related disorders: drugs, alcohol, strokes and other medical conditions can induce bipolar and related disorders. 

Bipolar disorder does not discriminate and it can occur at any age. It is typically diagnosed during the adolescent years as in the case of Joel. The symptoms of bipolar disorder can be very difficult to diagnose in children and teens. It can be mistaken for normal ups and down of being an adolescent. If you or a loved one have any symptoms of depression or mania, please see your doctor or mental health professional as soon as possible. Your doctor or mental health professional can help you get these symptoms under control. This disease will never get better on its own. When it is not treated, it will become more complicated such as suicidal thoughts and behavior. If you have any thoughts of hurting yourself, please call 911, get to the nearest hospital or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

As a disclaimer, I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist nor mental health worker. I am an Emergency Physician that was trained extensively to care for individuals that come to my Emergency Department during moments of mental health crisis. 

The Healthy Benefits of Eating Grapes

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Did you know that yeast is one of the earliest domesticated microbes that occur naturally on the skin of grapes, leading to the discovery of wine? Up to 8,000 years ago in Ancient Egypt, our ancestors recorded the art of cultivation of grapes via hieroglyphics. Approximately 72 million tons of grapes are grown each year worldwide AND mostly to produce wine! Because the world love wine, each year 7.2 trillion gallons of wine are produced! Grapes come in different colors and forms plus it is a very popular finger #food. I sometimes take a small ziplock bag of this fruit to work as a snack. The key nutrient in grapes that may offer health benefits is a powerful antioxidant called resveratrol. Grapes may shield #skin cells from the nasty effects of ultraviolet light radiation! Eating 1 to 2 cups of grapes per day can also rescue our body tissue from various chemical reactions that trigger inflammation. 

  1. Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant and some researchers suggested may be able to slow or prevent the growth of skin cancer, leukemia, tumors in lymph, liver, stomach, breast and colon. 
  2. Grapes are 82% water. By eating these fruits can keep your skin hydrated!
  3. May help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure.
  4. According to the American Heart Association, increasing potassium intake while lowering our sodium intake improves blood pressure. Grapes has an excellent source of potassium, but eat in moderation!
  5. Keep bowel movements regular!
  6. May reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  7. May reduce damage to your eyes (retina), prevent against various eye problems. 
  8. Could help treat acne especially if used with benzoyl peroxide as a topical treatment. 
  9. Boost your immune system

There are some studies suggesting that grapes may help to alleviate symptoms of allergies because it contains an anti-inflammatory property called quercetin. BUT I suggest that if you have a history of allergies, that you seek your primary care doctor first and inquire about getting tested for a grape allergen. I certainly would not want you to have a severe allergic reaction to eating grapes. Safety first!

After they’ve undergone the fermentation process, they become vino and many scientific researchers suggest that regular consumption of wine can improve health overall. But please drink in moderation! Women are advised to drink no more than one drink a day and men no more than two per day. I want you stay safe and responsible while drinking. 

A Cup of Joe Is just what the Doctor Ordered!

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I love drinking coffee! When I lived in Cuba, every morning my tia (Spanish for Aunt) would make a pot of café, pan con mantequilla (bread with butter) and croquetas. In Cuba, we drink tiny cups called “tazas.” Cuba has the best coffee in the world...don’t debate with me. Believe me, it’s rich and really strong! It will get you wired throughout the day! There’s a lot to love about your daily cup of coffee and you will be surprise about the benefits of caffeine.

According to the British Medical Journal, coffee drinkers may enjoy more health benefits than people who don’t drink the brew. Recent studies show drinking coffee and other drinks such as energy beverages have many eye-opening benefits such as:

  1. Caffeine may lower skin cancer risk. A recent article from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, reports a higher caffeine consumption lower the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma and melanoma.

  2. Caffeine can help to alleviate pain. When I have a headache, drinking a cup of coffee actually provides me with migraine pain relief for over 6 hours. 100 mg of caffeine plus a single dose of 200 mg of Ibuprofen is more effective for headache relief or menstrual cramps.

  3. I drink coffee before I head to the gym. Why? It powers my work out! Caffeine makes working out easier.

  4. Caffeine may lower rates of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Recent studies performed on mice have suggested caffeine might be helpful in treating Alzheimer’s disease.

  5. Caffeine consumption may improve your memory and better planning, organizing and time management.

  6. Drinking caffeine in moderation (3-4 cups a day) is linked to lowering risks of developing a stroke or heart disease.

  7. May help lower risk of colorectal cancer and death from the disease.

  8. Researchers found that those who drank more than 4 cups of caffeinated coffee per day had half the risk of death from oral cancer.

While coffee consumption may have some health benefits, people should proceed with caution. Remember caffeine is a drug and like any other drug, it can have harmful effects when ingested in excessive amounts. Drinking more than 500 mg of caffeine can cause nervousness, irritability, insomnia, upset stomach, tremors, and irregular heartbeat. Pregnant women should limit their intake of caffeine. According to the Dr. Joseph Wax, chair of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Committee on Obstetric Practice, “consuming moderate amounts of caffeine up to 200 mg per day is not associated with increased risks for preterm birth or miscarriages. If you have any heart conditions, you should limit your caffeine because it can accelerate one’s heart rate

Decaffeinated coffee still contains caffeine! But go ahead and buy yourself a nice hot cup of coffee! Enjoy!

Time Out! Take a Vacation to save your life!

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Taking time off from work or your daily grind not helps us to de-stress and feel happier, but it also helps with productivity and mood. For the past year, my hunny (the man of my life, Dwayne) and I hadn’t been traveling often like we used to. We would travel at least 4 times a year. But recently, we became so overwhelmingly consumed with balancing work, school, family matters and my brand. It has gotten so bad to the point I woke up early Sunday morning, got dressed and left from our apartment (while he was snoring away) to write this blog at one of my favorite parks in NYC. For me, this was a great mini getaway of a few hours to somewhere I truly enjoy being present and in tune with nature. 

Unfortunately for the past few months, I was stressed and burned out from life. I was more snappy at work, towards my family and friends. I found myself having constant body aches after leaving working and completing a podcast. I exercise regularly, but my energy during my workouts was down. The joys of life were being sucked right out of me. It wasn’t until I saw pictures of my friends vacationing on a Caribbean island on social media that I woke up and realized that I hadn’t taken a vacation in a long time. Did I mention that I even declined on going to some of those vacations with my friends because I had to much work to do and stressed about finances? Not good. One day, one of my friends sent me an email requesting that Dwayne and I celebrate her birthday in Mexico for Memorial Day Weekend. I didn’t respond initially, but I kept reading that email repeatedly for the next 4 days. I spoke with Dwayne about it and he said “Babe we need a vacation. We are tired and burned out. A mental break is due." She needed me to RSVP the following week. It was at that very moment a sleeping giant awoken inside my mind, soul, and body. Next thing I know, I clicked RSVP! I texted her the next day informing her that Dwayne and I will be there with her to celebrate her life. We purchased our tickets and hotel room the following day. And we left to Mexico for a four-day weekend. 

The mini trip to Mexico was glorious, relaxing and therapeutic. My soul, mind, and body experienced a different level of euphoria. I had finally escaped from the madness of everyday life in NYC. I don’t regret it because I deserve some rest and relaxation. According to a recent article on www.time.com, "many Americans don’t even take their allotted vacation time. Fewer Americans are going on vacation now than in the past…even when people are on vacation, more than 60% say they keeping working remotely.” My fellow Americans, this is terrible and alarming. I too fell into that mode about a year ago until I did something about it. I reminded myself that I only have one life to live and I better live it. The benefits of a vacation are clear; both physically and psychologically. For one, taking a break is extremely recommended for one’s mental health. But you got to know how to vacation. Poor planning can lead to more stress. 

You know what’s concerning about our country in comparison to other countries in Europe? According to a 2013 report by the Center for Economic and Policy research, “the U.S. is the only developed country that does not legally require a single paid vacation day…statistically speaking the average American left a billion vacation days unused last year.” In Europe, 20 paid vacation days minimum are required! France required 30 while Denmark, Austria and Belgium actually pay employees more when on vacation to offset the costs of travel! Maybe I should consider moving myself and family to Europe? Hmmmm…just a thought. In America, we earn 10 days of vacation a year or 2 work weeks. This means we as workers we have the lowest vacation days in the Western World. Yet many of still don’t take even half of their vacation time! In South America, Brazilians are granted 30 vacation days a year. Meanwhile down under, Australians receive 20 days a year. 

What are the health benefits of taking a vacation? 

  • Vacation reduces stress and anxiety. Don’t you feel happier while on vacation? Take notice of your mood.

  • Decreases depression

  • Improve productivity. People who take time off are more productive overall than those who spent time working. 

  • Helps your heart to stay healthy. According to a recent article published in the American Journal of American Medical Association titled “Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial: Risk Factor Changes and Mortality Results” found that men who take vacations annually and frequently were approximately 32 percent less likely to die from heart disease in comparison those who don’t take vacations annually and/or do staycations.  Another study from Framingham Heart Study found that women took less vacations are more likely to develop coronary heart disease or possible a heart attack than women who took at least two vacations per year.

  • Vacations boosts mental health! People are less tense, possess higher energy levels, more satisfied with life and are much healthier while on vacation. 

  • If you are in a healthy relationship, a vacation can improve your relationship with your loved one. I can attest to that because Dwayne and I were at odds with each other due to the amount of stress we acquired plus not having to take a vacation in a long time. Upon returning from our vacation, we are feeling more connected, happier and refreshed.

So again ladies and gentlemen, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking some time off for a mental break. GO AWAY! LEAVE! Come back as a different person. You deserve happiness in your life. You are not a machine! Save your money and plan your trip in advance. As mentioned earlier, taking time off from work or your daily grind not helps us to de-stress and feel happier, but it also helps with productivity, keeps your mind and heart healthy, and elevates your mood. I know it certainly did for me! 

 

Mental Freedom…All of us deserve It

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Are you still living in your past? Do you constantly put yourself down? Are you a people pleaser? Are you afraid to seek therapy and learn new coping mechanisms? If yes, you deserve mental freedom! in honor of National Mental Health Awareness Month, I spent some time alone and reflected on my journey to healing. There came a time in my life that I stopped trying to please everyone, putting myself down, overthinking about everything, fearing change for the better, and living in the past. Throughout my childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, I suffered overwhelmingly from anxiety and depression, mostly due to the many traumatic hardships I encountered in my life. I wanted to be perfect. I wanted everyone to view me as perfect. I felt trapped. Oh but looking back now, I see how much I’ve grown and what a journey! When I was in college, one of my closest friends, gifted me the book “Acts of Faith” by bestselling author Iyanla Vanzant. I started reading this book each day in addition to attending therapy. Believe me, this inspirational book (plus a few others I read) and the therapeutic sessions helped me for over a span of 20 years. 

Mental health is just as important as physical health. It is so important to attend to your mind. There is an increased need for understanding of, empathy for and respect for people challenged with mental health issues. Many people facing mental health issues oftentimes feel isolated and may have no support. Ladies and gentlemen, depression is a real illness and the MOST common mental disorder. Psychologist, Dr. Craig K. Polite, once said “Depression is anger that you turn yourself.” I completely agree with Dr. Polite. Depression is beyond sadness. People with depression may experience suicidal thoughts or death, lack of energy, inability to concentrate, ANGER, significant weight gain or loss, feelings of worthlessness, excessive guilt, lack of sleep or excessive sleeping, lack of interest and pleasure in daily activities. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 17 million adult Americans suffer from depression. But it is treatable with a combination of therapy and antidepressant medications. Exercise and improving can also aid in treatment of depression. Jogging, walking, running, resistance training, dance and other forms of movement have both physical and mental health benefits. 

As a disclaimer, I am not a Psychiatrist. I am an Emergency Physician who evaluates patients that are facing possible mental health crisis during my shifts at the Emergency Department. Not everyone that visits my Emergency Department (ED) has a physical complaint. There are many who visit the ED because they are feeling sad, anxious, depressed and/or suicidal. They are seeking help. And there is nothing wrong with that. Maybe you have a loved one who’s been struggling with depression. I encourage you to talk with that person about looking into treatment options. Or perhaps you are struggling with depression and it may be time for you to take a step toward getting help. Have you thought about seeking treatment, but is afraid to do so? Don’t be afraid. Why not reach out right now? It is so important for to stand up to the very thing that challenges us along with a great support system. Talk to a healthcare professional that you trust if you or your loved one needs help with depression. 

Love the skin you’re In, but protect it from skin cancer.

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Did you know that skin is THE largest organ in your body? Did you know that skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer? Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells and most often develop on areas of the skin exposed to the sun’s rays. It can affect people of ALL races and colors. A person with lighter complexion sunburn easily and have a much higher risk. Approximately 5 million cases are diagnosed in the US, but it is one of the most preventable forms of cancer. People who have dark skin tones often believe they’re not at risk for skin cancer, but that is a very dangerous misconception. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, melanoma is more deadly in people of color. Unfortunately, African American patients are more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma in its later stages, have the worst prognosis and the lowest overall survival rate. That is alarming.

Roughly about 90% of non melanoma skin cancers and 85% of #melanoma are associated with exposure to UV rays from the sun. As a disclaimer, I am not a Dermatologist, but as an Emergency Physician (ER Doctor) there are many skin disorders that I see at my Emergency Department daily which I may recommend my patients to follow up with a Board Certified Dermatologist. In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness month, Dr. Michelle Henry dropped some gems on the prevention of skin cancer and how to build your perfect skin on my show “The Visit" Episode #3. 

With summer around the corner, you may be one of the many persons excited about getting the perfect tan and might not realized how damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays are. A tan is a sign that your skin has been injured. If you are exposed to the sun’s UV rays or doing indoor tanning at a salon, your skin has been injured. The more your skin is exposed to these rays, the more the damage builds. The more damage builds, the skin aging process speeds up and increase your risk for all types of skin cancer especially to the most deadliest form of cancer, melanoma. However, skin cancers can develop in areas hidden from the sun. There is no safe way to tan your skin without exposing it to the damage from the sun’s UV rays.

What kind of skin cancer symptoms to look for? A regular examination of the skin for any new or unusual growths, bleeding, itching, changes in size, shape or color of an existing spot is ultimate key to detecting and treating skin cancers. It is important to examine your legs, trunk, arms, face and neck. It is also imperative to look for signs of skin cancer in the genitalia, between the eyes, toes, underneath the the nails, palms of the hands and soles of the feet. If the spot looks odd, please visit your primary care physician or a Board Certified Dermatologist for further evaluation. UV rays are very difficult to avoid. Our skin cells (melanocytes) exposed to UV light produces melanin. Melanin then absorbs this source of light and helps the skin from burning. However, too much skin exposure to UV rays can cause serious damage as mentioned earlier. There are ways to reduce your risk of skin cancer. 

  • As mentioned earlier, perform regular skin self-exams to detect skin cancer early
  • Between the hours of 10 am -2 pm, the sun’s rays are the strongest. Please seek shade when appropriate.

  • Do your best to wear protective clothing.  Lightweight pants, lightweight long-sleeved shirt, sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat is great when possible.

  • Please invest in purchasing a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. This provides protection from UVA and UVB rays.

  • Apply sunscreen whenever you are going to be outdoors. Make sure to apply enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. 

  • It is recommended to apply sunscreen every two hours especially after sweating, exercising outdoors or swimming.

  • Avoid tanning beds…PLEASE?! 

  • Sand at the beach reflects the sun’s rays. This can increase your chance of sunburn. Please apply sunscreen and wear protective eyewear.

  • If you notice a new or unusual spot on your skin, please see a Board-Certified Dermatologist as soon as possible.

Some sunscreens can prevent sunburn, reduce your risk of getting skin cane and help prevent early signs of skin aging. So please do your skin a favor, invest purchasing a sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, eyewear and have a hearty talk with your primary care physician or dermatologist about which ones to use. I am going to make sure that I buy a sunscreen for myself because next week I will be on the beach in Mexico soaking up those UV rays. 

Eat good bacteria!

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Do you know that there are bacteria aka “good bacteria” living in our intestines to help us digest food, destroy disease-causing microorganisms and produce certain vitamins? Probiotics are live microorganisms that are intended to have many health benefits. My gynecologist and friend, Dr. Lisa McLeod, recommends many of her patients to take Lactobacillus supplements daily to maintain normal vaginal flora. I take probiotics daily from www.natureal.com. But as an Emergency Physician, I often wonder how much do we really know about probiotics? Although a great deal of research has been done on probiotics, we still have a lot to learn. it still remains a mystery and it is not new! This is why I love science. For thousands of years, probiotics in fermented milk have been ingested by humans in the belief that they have health benefits. It has been advocated for the prevention and treatment of a wide range of diseases, but strong scientific evidence for the use of probiotics for most health conditions is lacking. However, there are few clinical studies that revealed evidence of their efficacy in the management of diarrheal diseases. Probiotics have a very good safety record, but they should be used with caution in certain groups such as preterm neonates or persons with immune deficiency. Before taking certain types of probiotics, people should take the time to understand the risks and benefits. Also, patients should be advised by their Physicians (MD/DO) before taking probiotic supplements in clinical practice. 

Are probiotics safe to use? It depends on your state of health. If you are generally healthy, the probiotics tend to have a good safety record. The only complaint I’ve heard so far from my patients, family, and friends that they experienced mild bloating and gas. However, there are many uncertainties with the use of probiotics and not enough research to prove the safety net of these probiotic supplements. There are some reports that demonstrated the severe side effects of probiotics in persons suffering from underlying serious medical problems such as the critically ill patients, post-surgery patients, people with weakened immune systems and sick infants. All we know is that the practice of taking probiotics is advocated to help increase the amount of good bacteria…pretty much help to bring a balance within in our bodies. As a matter of fact, here are some ways that probiotics might help prevent or treat certain conditions according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health such as:

  • Digestive disorders such as antibiotic-associated diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and infectious diarrhea.

  • Periodontal disease and other oral health issues

  • Common cold

  • Eczema and hay fever

  • Liver disease

  • Prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis in low birth weight infants.

Remember each probiotic can have different effects on our bodies. So please talk with your primary care physician before taking them! We want to make sure that you are receiving great care and avoiding harm to your temple. Ladies, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, I strongly advised that you talk with your OB/GYN specialist. But here are a few examples of how it may work for you: 

  • Maintain normal vaginal flora

  • Promote a healthy immune response to infections

  • Keep the undesirable microorganisms at bay

  • Helping the digestive tract to return to its original state after prolonged use of antibiotics 

So ladies and gentlemen, do your absolute best to talk with your physician and research on which probiotics are good for you. Understand the risks and benefits of taking probiotics. Do your absolute best treat your body right because you have the right to live.

All beans matter, but lentils matter the most!

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Eating healthy can help reduce people’s risk for heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, several types of cancer and maintain a healthy body weight. I absolutely love lentil soup. It is my second favorite soup after Jamaican chicken soup with dumplings. I enjoy eating lentil soup with or without meat. But I recommend lowering meat consumption by at least 15 percent. Why do I love lentil soup so much? Well my mother introduced this ancient bean into our diet early on during my childhood and made excellent lentil soup. So I fell in love! There are great some benefits to eating lentils that you may not be aware of. Lentils are a nutritious ingredient that is high in protein and fiber. They are a member of the legume family and come in red, brown, black and green varieties. These beans are an excellent source of folate, iron, manganese, potassium, selenium and calcium. Lentils are cheap to buy, quick and easy to prepare. 

You might ask yourself “what is the big deal about these beans? They are also a very good source in zinc, copper, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, and pantothenic acid. Did you know that lentils can also help prevent constipation? Remember when I talked about fiber intake in the last blog highlighting the importance of eating breakfast including oatmeal? Well it turns out that plant foods like lentils which are high in fiber also prevents constipation thereby promoting a healthy digestive tract. Dietary selenium comes from nuts, cereals, mushrooms and lentils! A number of recent studies implicated that selenium may prevent inflammation, chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes and improves our immune system. The fiber content in lentils is also associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer. According to American Heart Association, an increase in fiber intake can reduce LDL cholesterol (low density lipoprotein) aka “bad cholesterol.” Also some studies reveal that it protect our hearts’ health. 

 

But ladies and gentlemen, have you ever thought to yourselves, “the older you are the more tired you become?” Well your fatigue may be due to iron deficiency. Lentils are a great source of hon-heme iron. One cup of cooked lentils contains over 1/3 of daily iron needs which is great for women aged 18 to 50 years susceptible to iron deficiency. Our bodies can easily absorb non-heme iron. Make sure to schedule an appointment to see your primary care physician about iron deficiency. You might need additional iron supplements and other dietary means to boost your iron levels. Ladies, if you’re pregnant please be aware that folate is very critical for preventing congenital disabilities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is strongly recommended that all women during their childbearing years should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. It is found that one cup of lentils contain almost 90% of the required folate that needed per day. Please visit your Obstetrician for recommendations for folic acid intake. Every woman and her pregnancy is different. 

However, if you are planning to increase your overall fiber intake, please make sure to drink plenty of liquids to prevent constipation. Too much fiber may cause constipation. Be careful with consuming excessive amount of fiber because you may want to avoid the embarrassment of passing gas (flatulence)! 

But Doc! Why do I have to eat Breakfast?!

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So as a Physician, I have to remind myself daily to practice what I preach. After seven years of medical school in Havana, Cuba and 3 years of Emergency Medicine Residency training in Newark, NJ, I have now developed a really bad habit of intermittently skipping the most important meal of the day: BREAKFAST! I would dash out of the door for work in the morning with only a cup of coffee. Not good. When I don’t eat breakfast, I am a little cranky, not as focused and have less energy than usual. When this happens, I would take a quick 5-minute break and leave from the Emergency Department briefly to grab a toasted plain bagel with a little butter or cream cheese to curb my hunger. According to a recent study in www.consumerreports.org, “women who worked full time had a greater risk than those who worked part-time, possibly because job stress has been found to raise glucose levels.” That ladies and gentlemen, is a major problem. Eating a good healthy breakfast can jumpstart our metabolism and help us burn calories throughout the day. Eating within 2 hours upon awakening can make a great difference in the way we metabolize glucose (blood sugar) throughout the duration of the day. It also helps our temple (body) keep glucose and insulin balanced which has major effects on metabolism and health

But there is good news! The good news is that there are a few reasons why breakfast is the most important meal of day that we can all benefit from it.

  1. Several studies have linked eating breakfast to better processing and learning information, memory and concentration. I find this to be true. When I eat a hearty breakfast, I am more focused, very active, my energy level is increased, and my work is more efficient.

  2. Eating a well-balanced breakfast is linked to reducing the risk of obesity. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating or skipping meals do not have an effect on weight loss. However, skipping breakfast habitually may lead to overeating at other meals and excessive snacking throughout the day. When I was in residency, I had to work night shifts. Working night shifts are difficult because once you’re finished working, you may run home and go straight to sleep...skipping breakfast. My eating habits changed dramatically. I snacked on whatever I could find and overindulged on not-so healthy meals during the night shifts. Definitely led to a little weight gain and I was not happy about it.

  3. Not eating breakfast consistently may lead to cardiovascular diseases. So eat a morning meal, people! It may protect your heart and prevent clogged arteries!

Of course what you put in your mouth is important. Only drinking a cup of coffee and eating foods with high sugar content will eventually lead to a disaster. I strongly recommend that you kick-start your beautiful morning with a nutritious bowl of cereal. Why? Well breakfast cereal is a very quick and easy meal to prepare in a short period of time. My favorite bowl of cereal is oatmeal! I love my oatmeal thick with a little brown sugar and cinnamon to the mix. Sometimes I switch up and I add fruit and yogurt instead of brown sugar. It is a great breakfast dish. I always have to have a cup of tea and a bottle of water for hydration. I know...some of you are probably giving me the side eye about oatmeal. But eating a bowl of oatmeal each day has its benefits. For example, oatmeal contains a soluble fiber called beta glucan which helps to curb your bad (LDL) cholesterol. Recent studies show eating oatmeal is linked to approximately 7% drop in your bad cholesterol. The fiber in oatmeal helps with promoting good bowel movement (easing constipation) and control glucose levels. When I eat a bowl of oatmeal, I am full and I eat less later on through the day.

So ladies and gentlemen, do your absolute best to wake a little earlier than usual and treat your body to a hearty breakfast in the morning. Resist the doughnuts or any pastry. It is best to have a breakfast mix of foods that have protein, healthy fats, fiber and carbohydrates. As mentioned earlier, the fiber will keep you full while the carbohydrates will give you fuel and the proteins will provide additional energy. Smoothies made from low fat yogurt, fruit and a little bit of bran or a whole-grain granola bars are great breakfast options as well.



 

Why I believe in Black Girl Magic with Jasmine Sanders

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“I believe in Black Girl Magic because our presence in media has and still continues to impact the world. As a woman in media, I love seeing stories about women who are before me, so I can be inspired and share my story to those after me. Media companies are giving the public what they want but not giving us [young girls and women] what we want,” says the beautiful and talented, Radio co-host of the top-ranked and nationally syndicated "The D.L. Hughley Show," Jasmine Sanders. Recently, I was at the Sistahs in Business Expo in Newark, NJ. Sistahs in Business Expo consisted of panel discussions focusing on business, entrepreneurship, financial freedom and women empowerment. What made the experience of being there completely dope is when Jasmine Sanders and I engaged our ourselves in deep conversation about various topics such as women empowerment, black beauty, women in media, love, self-awareness and sistahs grinding to make their dreams come true. The impact of the recent METOO movement definitely left a huge impact on both men and women nationally. At the peak of our sista-bonding, I asked Jasmine why is it important that women should represent women in media. 

During our conversation, Jasmine truly made me feel very welcomed. She is a rare gem in the entertainment world. The entertainment world can be full of inflated egos and superficiality, but Jasmine is a diva with a beautiful smile, with undeniable talent and is so down-to-earth. And my heart was filled with joy when she said to me that "as a Black woman, she is sooooo proud of me becoming an Emergency Physician (ER Doctor) and a media personality. Women are smart. You, I and all the other young girls and women that dare to dream are forces to be reckoned with. Don’t you forget that.” I told Jasmine about my wonderful experience of interning for Wendy Williams at her former radio show at WBLS many years as a college student and what I learned about her as a woman in media; what it takes to be the Queen of All Media. She was excited to hear that I am happy to host a podcast brunch on this topic. 

With over 15 years of media experience, Jasmine has persistently made a name for herself. She has interviewed celebrities including Beyonce, John Legend, Shaquille O’Neal, Jamie Foxx, Laurence Fishbone, LeBron James, Steve Harvey and countless other A-list celebrities. When she is not working at the studio, Jasmine speaks to and works with young women in an effort to to give hope to those who may had lost faith and constantly encourage us to believe that we can accomplish of our heart’s desires. 

I am über excited about my upcoming podcast brunch going live on 04/22/18 from 12p-3pm at the Loft in Flatiron in New York, NY! Join us to chat with two Emmy Award winning journalists, Sukanya Krishnan from Fox 5 NY and Nicole Johnson from WPIX-11 news because these ladies certainly have a lot to say about their experiences as women in media. Save the date! Purchase your tickets at http://tiny.cc/brunchwithdrmollette. Each ticket includes unlimited mimosas, brunch and a valuable discussion. Let’s have some girls talk!

A Conversation with Doug E. Fresh

“It’s hard to keep up living a healthy life while living a busy life. But health is our wealth,” says Doug E Fresh. Recently, I was at the Be Expo event in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. Be Expo festival consisted of great panel discussions focusing on health, music, business, women empowerment, etc. Doug E Fresh was one the main headliners at the event. Before he spoke at one of the workshops as a panelist and hit the stage to perform his greatest classics, Doug E Fresh and I discussed a wide range of topics such as 80s-90s Hip Hop, self awareness to the recent death of former Bad Boy rap artist Craig Mack. The impact of the recent deaths of many Hip Hop legends definitely left a huge impact on the Hip Hop community worldwide. 

During our conversation, Doug E Fresh made my heart glad when he mentioned that he does his best to exercise, eat right and visit his primary care physician regularly. And that his goal is to live as long as possible while avoiding preventable diseases that plague the Black community at large such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, obesity, renal failure and strokes. He said “many Black men must take care of themselves and visit their primary care physician before we start experiencing complications. We are dying at a faster rate and part of the reason is we don’t see a doctor regularly; waiting until the last minute when it is too late. Our health is our wealth.”

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Craig Mack aka “Prince of Bad Boy” dies at 46 from Heart Failure

I woke up this morning and was preparing to go to work when I discovered that one of Long island finest, rapper/one of #badboy legends, Craig Mack, died at the age of 46 from heart failure.

This truly saddens me as Hip Hop lover and as an Emergency Physician (ER Doctor) because I’ve evaluated and treated many patients with this disease at the emergency department, especially patients of African descent. And the outcome isn’t always great. I also have several family members suffering from #heartdisease. Hip Hop is certainly facing a health crisis.

According to the American Heart Association, #africanamericans are disproportionately affected by heart failure with a very high prevalence at an early age. Hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease are all too common in African Americans ; predisposing us to heart failure. But it can be overcome. The predominant risk factor is hypertension and aggressive treatment may reduce the incidence and consequences of heart failure amongst our people. PLEASE visit your Primary Care Physician for preventive care.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friend, @djscratch. RIP #prince of Bad Boy Keep the #flavainyourear in Heaven. #americanheartassociation #cardiology #emergencymedicine

The reason I am doing this Podcast Brunch. 

Valentine’s Day is Overrated, but Love Isn’t...

As an Emergency and now Lifestyle Physician, I’ve had taken care of people from all walks of life. I’ve treated rich, poor, middle class, black, Asian, white, latino, gay, bisexual, heterosexual, transgender, gender-neutral etc., for all kinds of mental and physical ailments. Nothing is new under the sun at the Emergency Department (ED). But every once in a while, I meet a patient that comes to the ED, not for me to seek a resolution for their physical complaint; but to talk about how “lonely” he or she is, and/or the fear of dying alone and from a broken heart. Some feel so alone to the point that they are drinking alcohol or abusing illicit drugs to self-medicate themselves from despair. Some utilize the ED as a place to escape from their current situation at home. Many just need someone to talk to. 

I’ll never forget the time that I admitted a beautiful young woman to the Psychiatric Unit after I medically evaluated her at my ED. She attempted to commit suicide by drinking an excessive amount of alcohol and taking Xanax. I asked her what pushed her to the point of wanting to give up her precious life. Her response: “I am always alone. I am a failure at maintaining relationships. I will never find love in my life. I know I will die alone and from a broken heart.” Her words truly hurt my soul and reminded me that not too long ago, I experienced a similar situation. I was broken hearted, alone, unloved, believed I was a failure and self-medicated myself with alcohol. The only thing I didn’t do was to attempt suicide, unlike my patient. But I was chronically depressed since childhood. Eventually, I gained some strength, enrolled myself into counselling and thankfully was able to heal from those old wounds. 

February is not only recognized for Black History Month and Valentine’s Day, but it is also recognized for International Boost Self-Esteem Month. So I decided to dedicate this upcoming episode of my podcast “The Visit,” to love and wellness. Lately, I have been reading blogs and internet articles about self-love, how to find love and dating rules. What I discovered is that many expressed on these blogs that love, marriage and Valentine’s Day are overrated. I agree that Valentine’s Day is overrated and dating is hard especially when it seems like everyone on and off social media is happy and perfect; with their pictures and hashtags like #couplegoals, #blacklove, #powercouple circulating on a constant rotation. You may be one of those people that may click “like” on those posts, but go home alone and feel defeated. Recently, American comedian, actress and star of Ghostbusters, Leslie Jones, opened up to Twitter about her fear of dying alone. She stated “ok back to cardio. But confession I feel like I’m doing it for nothing. I know it's not that I’m healthy and look good, but I really feel like “what’s it all for” if the people you want to notice don’t. I just feel like I might die alone. Sorry, that’s pretty heavy today...this isolates single people and makes them feel defeated.”  Does this sound familiar? How many of us had similar sentiments like Leslie Jones and sought a resolution? Thankfully, many of Jones’ followers reached out to her as a community and sent electronic loving words of encouragement via Twitter. 

According to Washington Post, 109 million Americans are single. There are adults 18 and older who are either divorced, widowed or have always been single. The biggest group is those who’ve never been married. Why? What has changed? One of the top reasons this group is growing is the age at which people are tying the knot. Young adults are delaying marriage for many reasons such as obtaining higher education, knee-deep growing debt, low wages, challenging job market and the growing number of single women giving birth. 

But this upcoming episode of my podcast is not just about marriage. It’s a multitude of things that need to be talked about such as how singles are stereotyped, stigmatized and ignored, the constant pressure on women to get married and have kids, self-love, interracial dating, arranged marriages vs non-arranged marriages, empowerment etc. I would like for those that plan to attend my podcast brunch to feel empowered from the advice of the guest panelists and know that at the end of the day he or she is unconditionally loved. If there are areas of their lives that they want to improve, there is help and they don’t have to do it alone.  

I hope this blog encourages you to come, sit, enjoy unlimited mimosas and appetizers while listening to each of the guest panelists. But most importantly, that you will learn and gain valuable advice regarding love and wellness pre-Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day is overrated, but Love isn’t.

Sunday, February 11th

12-3pm

Milk River Brooklyn

Get your tickets!